SPIRIT LAKE, Idaho - Idaho is one of only three states that don’t consider animal cruelty a felony. That would change under a bill now in the Idaho House. The measure allows up to a year in jail and a $9,000 fine for the worst types of abuse. Yet the measure hasn’t drawn cheers from animal rescue groups.
Tony Mangan heads Panhandle Equine Rescue. A few years ago the group removed this quarterhorse named Maggie from a nearby ranch. Mangan says she was thin and frail, but in better shape than the owner’s other horses.
“He had horses out in pasture with dead horses,” he recalls.
Mangan says like in many abuse cases, the punishment that owner received was "nothing.”
And he doesn’t think the new bill would change that. The measure makes intentional and malicious infliction of pain a felony -- but only on the third offense. And it doesn’t address harm caused by starving an animal.
The bill made it through the Idaho Senate with the support of the livestock industry and the Idaho Humane Society. Meanwhile, activists are gathering signatures to put a tougher measure before voters. It includes mandatory sentences for animal cruelty.
Washington and Oregon both treat animal torture as a felony on the first offense. In Washington, failure to feed an animal can also be prosecuted the first time as a felony.
On the Web:
SB 1303 - Idaho animal cruelty bill:
Oregon animal abuse law:
Washington animal abuse law:
Idaho 1 of 3:
Panhandle Equine Rescue
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